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A quiet little place, with an endless wine list, tucked away on Duxton Hill

We were searching, maybe a bit too late at 9pm, on a Friday night for a place on Duxton Hill to have dinner. Walking up and down the cobble-stoned hill lined with conservation shop houses, we were surprised to see that most restaurants were quiet. This seemed a bit surprising on a Friday night – and further stumped us on our selection…as when in doubt in Singapore one always follows the crowd as food-loving Singaporeans seem to have an instinctual drive for good food. Maybe we should have left at this point for more crowded environs, but we decided to be adventurous and try The Universal.

We were warmly greeted and seated immediately and I can say that the service was quite good throughout the meal, although to be fair we were one of two tables in the restaurant.  It wasn’t a great start that the bread was stale – hard and chewy in all the wrong places. We were however encouraged by what seemed to be a menu inspired for wine pairings and the wine list overflowed with an endless array of options.

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I ordered the Coq Au Vin ($28SGD), chicken braised in red wine sauce with bacon, mushrooms and croutons. The presentation was perfect, but sadly the taste was lacking…overseasoned with salt and a bit dry…overall the dish failed to please.

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Paul had the Beef Bourguignon ($30 SGD), beef braised in red wine with vegetables and mashed potatoes. While it was good, it was not great, and Paul just felt like it wasn’t worth its suggested price tag.

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Our fellow diners had the Pan Seared Cod ($33 SGD) with coco bean ragout, onion and cream sauce and the Crispy Duck Leg Confit ($34 SGD) with mashed potatoes, glazed vegetables and a red date sauce. While the cod was overcooked, the duck actually was quite good…the skin deliciously crispy (as promised) and the inside moist and succulent as it is when duck is well-prepared.

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I wish I could say we loved this place – it was a well designed restaurant with tasteful aesthetics, a long wine list and close to our house! In the final equation it is lovely quiet place with excellent Duck Confit, but overall we just didn’t feel that the rest of the dishes lived up to the promise of the menu descriptions and were not the best value for the price.

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The Universal Restaurant and Wine Bar
36 Duxton Hill
Telephone: +65 6325 0188

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